Olympics

Drut praises Annecy's bid technical qualities

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PARIS (AP)

French IOC member Guy Drut believes Annecy still has a chance of securing the 2018 Winter Olympics despite the resignation of the bid leader.

Drut said the French Alpine city is not the favorite, but ''is probably the best placed when you look at the technical qualities of the bids.''

Edgar Grospiron resigned as bid chief Sunday, saying he wasn't given enough money to compete with rival candidates Munich and Pyeongchang, South Korea.

''This is not over, we already saw outsiders winning a competition,'' Drut said. ''There are still important steps ahead of us that will involve both Jean-Claude Killy and myself.''

Formal bid files must be submitted to the International Olympic Committee by Jan. 11. The IOC will select the host city at a meeting in Durban, South Africa, on July 6.

The IOC criticized the bid's spread-out venues in June, prompting Annecy officials to change their plans to a proposal centered around Annecy and Chamonix.

Two weeks ago, Drut and Killy, the other French IOC member, said the revamped approach had failed to impress IOC members and Annecy was still lagging in support.

''There was a small eclipse, but an eclipse never prevented the sun to shine,'' Drut said.

The head of the French Olympic Committee and French Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno said a replacement or replacements for Grospiron should be announced early next month.

''Our new team won't probably have a single head,'' Masseglia said without elaborating, while Drut excluded the possibility of taking over as the new bid chief.

''I don't have time for this,'' Drut said. ''It would have been possible in the early stages of the process, but not now. I have plenty of Olympic duties and it's the same for Jean-Claude. But we are totally committed to the bid.''

With the Russian city of Sochi hosting the 2014 Games, Drut said Pyeongchang is the favorite because of the IOC's trend of rotating between continents.

''But there are other criteria,'' he said. ''The visit of the IOC's evaluation commission in February will be very important.''

Drut said it would have been better had Grospiron decided to stay, but cited the example of London in winning an Olympic bid after changing leaders.

''I have to admit I can't remember the name of the lady who started as the head of the London bid,'' he said, referring to American businesswoman Barbara Cassani, who stepped down in 2004 and was replaced by British track great Sebastian Coe. The city was awarded the 2012 Olympics in 2005.

Following two tumultuous weeks capped with Grospiron's departure, all the officials involved in the bid reiterated their strong support for the project.

After the bid budget was increased to $26.4 million from $24 million last week, Jouanno promised more money once the promotion campaign is redefined.

''If we have a clear international strategy, we will be able to justify a new budget increase,'' she said. ''We'll then ask big French companies to support us.''

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